24/02/2011

NI Leads As Potholed Roads Get Extra Funds

England followed Nl's example this week with winter damage to the roads being addressed on a national basis.

Already, in Northern Ireland, the severe weather at New Year has led to an extra £8.5m being allocated for maintenance and an additional £9m from this month's monitoring round for the Department for Regional Development's road works.

The funding came after what was described as "the coldest December for over 120 years".

The Stormont Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy said last week: "The freezing conditions experienced in December have caused carriageways to split and potholes to form and Roads Service is giving priority to the repair of the affected roads.

"This additional investment is good news for both road users and the construction industry.

"Roads Service has contingency plans in place for spending any additional funding with its contractors and we expect that work will start very shortly for this additional structural maintenance work."

The issue had been raised widely. In Co Down, Newtownards Alliance Councillor Alan McDowell successfully called for the Ards Council to have resurfacing addressed urgently

"I am pleased that my motion at Ards Council calling on the Council to put pressure on the Minister to get the work completed was passed.

"At a recent meeting with Road Service, I complained that when patching was carried on the unfinished stretch, it was a waste of money, as it had only made thing worse. Then the snow and ice in December made things even worse, creating more potholes," he said.
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However, the extra money awarded was in sharp counterpoint to news of a major Co Antrim road project being abruptly shelved after the Sinn Fein Regional Development Minister postponed the A2 Shore Road upgrade for four years.

Maintenance

The news in NI came just before councils in England were given more than £100m of extra funding to spend on repairing potholes yesterday.

The funding is in addition to the £831m already provided to councils for road maintenance this year and the £3bn the Government has committed over the next four years.

The severe weather at the end of last year has left many local roads in a poor condition.

Every local authority has a responsibility to properly maintain their roads, including planning winter resilience measures, but this exceptional weather has caused significant additional damage.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said: "Millions of motorists across the country have their daily drives ruined by potholes. And the awful winter weather we had this year is only going to make that problem worse.

"That is why, despite the tough financial position we are in, we are going to give councils over £100m extra to help carry out much needed repairs to England's roads.

"I am determined to see the winter damage to our roads fixed as quickly as possible and we will be working with councils to make sure that happens.

"This money should make a real difference to the millions of drivers who are fed up with having to continually battle against dangerous potholes, giving them safer and smoother journeys," he said.

See: England's Potholed Roads Get Extra Funds

See: Shore Road A2 Upgrade Hit By Cuts

(BMcC/GK)

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